I've had a decision to make. Raggedy arsed ex-muso hill bums don't have careers, but this has been the hardest one of my non-career to make, and since I announced via this blog nearly 3 years ago I was changing my job and my home, I should probably come clean and do it once more. I wasn't going to do this for another month but apparently there are no boundaries in the age of the internet so, as my nan said, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.
I've been offered and decided to take some magazine editing work, taking over from Phil Turner on Outdoor Enthusiast and Mountain Pro. Phil has introduced some great writers and photographers to those pages over the last couple of years and with a bit of luck and lots of planning there are more good things to come. I'm happy to say the super experienced Lucy Wallace remains gear editor, and the equally expert Tom Hutton joins us to test to destruction the gear I can't. I'm also very grateful that Phil, along with Emily and Daniel, the editors at The Great Outdoors magazine gave me a break in publishing my outdoors snaps and scribbles to a wider audience, and I hope to do the same for others in time.
As well as being a great opportunity, there's risk attached - of course there is. Outdoor mags sometimes come under fire for their economic imperatives and lack of imagination in commissioning, but I'm not sure this isn't a rehash of the same authenticity debate I've seen played out in other areas I've worked in. I'm fairly ambivalent towards the medium, but not to the message - there are amazing mags, blogs, books, films and music... and not-so-good examples. DiY seems more punk by design, but good storytelling is the ultimate rock n roll, regardless of platform. Insofar as an editor can determine these things, I'm aiming for that, or as near as dammit.
I expect there might be some recoil personally as well, this is Britain after all. If waiting for someone to fail rocks your boat, feel free to steer clear of mine - life's too short. Outside of the new editor role, I'm hoping to continue my freelance efforts elsewhere, and have a newly signed book contract with Cicerone to honour for 2016. Yes, that is my palms sweating, I don't mind admitting - I'm trading a little more creativity for a lot less security, and there's 3 in the pack now - having a bairn does rewire the brain, if only because of the chronic sleep deprivation. Maybe I'll have to eat my words here in the future - more than likely some of them - but at least they'll be mine.
For the record, I have a huge amount of love and respect for the people and places of the John Muir Trust and remain on great terms. I thought long and hard for weeks about whether to make a change. The people who work for them are some of the most dedicated, smart and passionate souls I have ever had the fortune to meet, let alone work alongside. For me they remain in the vanguard of conservation in the UK, one of very few organisations driving real change on a broad front - on land use and energy policy, ecological improvements on the ground and reconnecting people with nature through their education work - all with a fraction of the resources they deserve. They've still got a bit of a serious, bookish image, probably because ecological change can be a serious, bookish business... but I'd say that stuff is pretty punk rock, wouldn't you? Most outdoors folk aren't joiners by nature, and neither am I... but I'll continue to be a member and supporter and urge everyone reading this to do the same.
Recently I've been mooching about in the woods under Creag Meagaidh, on a scrambling course in Skye, exploring the Forth of Fife, photographing the Wasdale Fell Race by accident, and finding the source of the Tweed in a packraft, so more of that kinda thing later. For now, though, as always - thanks for reading.